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Bettencourt exits family business board

By Rashmi Kumar

Liliane Bettencourt, heiress of cosmetics giant L’Oreal and France’s richest woman, has quit the board of the family business and will be replaced by her grandson.

The move comes a few months after it was found that the 89-year-old is suffering from “mixed dementia” and “modestly severe” Alzheimer’s. She was put under the guardianship of her daughter, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, and grandsons in October last year.

The Bettencourt family collectively owns 30.9% of the Clichy-based business. Jean-Paul Agon, non-family chairman and chief executive of L’Oreal, said in a statement: “[Bettencourt’s] participation as board director was a permanent encouragement to pursue her father's work to grow the company, first and foremost in its quest for excellence, its demand for high standards and pertinent decisions in the respect of the men and women of this company.”

L'Oreal, founded in 1909, did not provide a reason for the octogenarian’s exit from the board, but said 25-year-old Jean-Victor Meyers will replace his grandmother.

“[We are] satisfied with the continuity of the Bettencourt family’s attachment to L’Oreal,” added Agon. Meyers, who is Bettencourt’s oldest grandson, also serves on the supervisory board of the family’s holding company Tethys.

The announcement comes on the back of a 5.1% increase in revenues for 2011 to €20.34 billion. Operating profit at L’Oreal also rose by about 7% to €3.29 billion.

The group said it was expecting “another year of sales and profit growth in 2012”. Its positive outlook was thanks to growth across all of its product divisions last year, including brands such as Garnier, Lancome and Kiehl’s.

L’Oreal said in the statement that 2012 will be a “symbolic year” due to anticipated growth in “new markets” such as Asia and Latin America.

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